Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

This Week in Science: Feb 17, 2017

In this week's Science, two legal experts discuss the intellectual property landscape of CRISPR genome editing, highlighting the ongoing dispute among research institutions over foundational patents and patent applications covering the technology. The authors note that these institutions have spun off of companies with exclusive rights to their respective IP, which "could rapidly bottleneck the use of CRISPR technology to discover and develop useful human therapeutics." The authors suggest how existing licenses to CRISPR IP could be restructured to allow greater access to this platform technology. GenomeWeb covers the CRISPR patent battle, in which the Broad Institute was handed a win this week, here and here.

Also in Science, a team from New England Biolabs publishes a study suggesting that a segment of low-frequency mutations identified in large cancer datasets may actually be damaged samples of DNA, highlighting the need to address DNA damage and account for sequencing errors due to such damage when conducting genetic analyses. The researchers created and experimentally validated an algorithm that utilizes global sequencing read imbalances, and then applied it to genome datasets from the 1000 Genomes Project and a subset of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). They discovered that in 78 percent of tumors examined, more than half of the low-frequency genetic variants identified could be due to DNA damage and not true mutations. Further, these reading errors mostly affected the identification of rare mutations present in a subpopulation of tumor cells, not commonly found variants. "Additional work will be required to properly identify conditions that will be effective in eliminating damage from TCGA, 1000 Genomes Project samples, and sequencing samples in general," they say. GenomeWeb also covers this here.

The Scan

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.